By BRIAN WITTE, Associated Press
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) – To encourage the Washington Commanders to stay in Maryland, the Maryland House approved a $ 400 million plan to develop the area around FedEx Field in the suburbs of the nation’s capital, but it does not include money for a new stadium for the NFL team.
The House voted 121-10 for the bill, which now goes to the Senate with less than a week to go in the state’s legislative session. The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn Monday at midnight.
The measure, which also includes a provision with $ 200 million to renovate minor league baseball stadiums around the state, would authorize the Maryland Stadium Authority to use money from the state lottery to build infrastructure in Prince George’s County. The county could use the funds for development even if the Commanders leave the state.
The Commanders’ lease at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, ends in 2027. The team has been looking into new stadium possibilities for several years. It has played at FedEx Field since 1997.
Virginia lawmakers have been working on an incentive package to try to lure the team to their state, which does not have a major pro sports franchise. Legislation in Virginia did not pass in the last session, though lawmakers are taking up the matter again in a special session that began this week.
Maryland has been in discussions with the Commanders. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said last month the state would like to keep the team in the state, but he told reporters he’s not willing to get into a bidding war with Virginia or the District of Columbia over keeping the team in Maryland by buying a stadium.
“They’re negotiating, you know, trying to pit everybody against each other, but we’re not going to get into a bidding war over them, and we’re not going to be proposing $ 1.2 billion to build them a stadium,” Hogan said last month. “If Virginia wants to do that, and they want to go to Virginia, I would say ‘good luck.'”
Hogan declined to offer an opinion about the Maryland legislation this week, saying on Monday he had not seen it.
The Republican governor has voiced support for a separate measure that would allocate $ 1.2 billion to improve facilities in Baltimore: M&T Bank Stadium, where the Baltimore Ravens play, and Camden Yards, home to the Baltimore Orioles.
Discussions about a new stadium come at a time when Congress is investigating the Commanders. Earlier this week, the team denied a report that allegedly they withheld ticket revenue from visiting teams. Congress began investigating the team earlier this year after the league did not release a written report of an investigation into sexual harassment inside the organization. Front Office Sports and The Washington Post last week reported the investigation widened to include the finances of the team that has been owned by Dan Snyder since 1999.
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